You don’t know me…yet. Casa Emma, Part I

The email said that a friend was selling his entire cellar – health reasons – and the sender, an acquaintance of mine, asked if I might be interested in buying it. I took a look at the attached spreadsheet, absolutely yes, I was interested. I bought that cellar, well, most of it, anyway.

Buried within the couple of hundred bottles of this cellar – mostly names/producers I was already familiar with, from all over Europe and also a splash of high-end California Cab, all from very good vintages – were about a half dozen wines from a producer I had never heard of; more than 10 years later, this would lead to my discovery of farming/winegrowing on a whole different level.

These wines would be 20 years old right now, but I’ve already drank all of them, so I can only guess how they might be holding up.

If you’d asked me 10 years ago, when I began to open some of these bottles, I’d have guessed they would hold up another 3-5 years. And that’s the part of this whole fine wine journey that just tickles me – you pay for a wine, maybe you open it straightaway, or maybe you cellar it for years, either way, you get to enjoy it – but, with this hobby/problem/passion, you also sometimes get an added bonus, one you did not pay for but received anyway – enlightenment. A real, honest to goodness lesson, a gift from nature to you. Well, it’s more than just nature, it’s also man, listening to and respecting nature. (below: Sangiovese winegrowing in complete harmony with its environment)

chianti-vines

What was it about that seed that was planted all those years ago, who was it that took a hammer and chisel and etched this experience, this lesson, into my memory? These wines were not on anyone’s radar (i.e. the media/press), or if they were, I couldn’t find much. But I liked these wines – they were honest in a way I’d rarely ever come across before. There was a lightness, a subtle, delicate beauty at the core of these wines. Which is to say there was no over-manipulation, no picking a week or two after everyone else had already done so – for effect. There was no style here, other than purity, clean, honest purity. And over the next few years, after I’d opened a few, I no longer just liked, I loved these wines.

When I first began to drink them, the majority of my cellar was California Cabernet and red blends – Insignia, Mondavi Reserve, Togni, Shafer HSS, etc., but also a good deal of the enjoy-now (or later) type wines that were more affordable, easier to understand (e.g.Flora Springs, St. Supery, etc.). Beyond my California collection, I had what I thought was a good representation of the rest of the winegrowing world, too. But, instead of a case of each wine, I’d have one or two; I probably had 150 wines to cover the rest of the world, it was about 50/50, whites and reds. If I recall correctly, there were likely a few wines from Chianti Classico region – mostly Fontodi and Felsina.

In my next post, I’ll take you inside the humble, honest world of the wines from Casa Emma (“who?”, “what are you talking about, I know wine(s) from this region, I’ve never heard of them, before! Surely you’re a shill!”), and explain their winegrowing and raising of these wines.

(below: I’m not a fan of their packaging/labels. Like most, I like things that catch my eye, are unique, maybe even flashy, aesthetically easy to approach – tasty and filling with just one serving. That said, the labels are like the wines, and the people, at Casa Emma, no-frills, no hype or banter, no loud colors, just honesty. At every turn. 360 degrees of honesty. What a feeling!

casa-emma-ris-2011

(header photo: winegrowing at Casa Emma, in the heart of Chianti Classico region, April 2014. I purposely chose this photo as it was nothing that ‘popped‘, nothing that attracted attention to itself. It’s not the dust jacket that matters, it’s what’s inside the book.)

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

3 thoughts on “You don’t know me…yet. Casa Emma, Part I

  1. I don’t believe they can, Paul, though I desperately wish they were. I will see these folks in about a month, I’ll ask again, but historically, these have come into New England (NY, CT, MA) mostly, with some coming in to Wine Exchange, too. The CC is a terrific wine, the CC Riserva, always over-delivers. The Vignalparco, way over-delivers. Crazy values here.

    ciao

    (about 15 years ago there was an import company here called Elizabeth Imports, that’s the last time they were in this market, I believe)

    Like

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